The Power of Acronyms
May 16th, 2018. Coaches Across Continents Facilitator, Ashlyn Hardie, puts together a blog reflecting the incredible leadership and success of Community Impact Coach (CIC), Benny Marquis, and past Michael Johnson Young Leader, Jamie Tomkinson who recently lead a Coaches Across Continents training in Bangalore, India with CAC partner Parikrma Humanity Foundation.
Stories like these are amazing. They are amazing because everything that Coaches Across Continents strives for is positive social change in the world – and not just for a moment, for a minute, for a year – but forever. Sustainable, positive change is why we do everything that we do here at CAC.
So, why is this program so special? Why is this blog titled “The Power of Acronyms”? Let me explain….
FIRST – Jamie Tomkinson was nominated by Coaches Across Continents to be a Michael Johnson Young Leader a couple years ago, and was selected! MJYL, our first acronym for this blog, is one of the most prestigious leadership training courses, and life-changing opportunities for young people all around the world. Jamie, once finishing the MJYL training, has continued to work with Coaches Across Continents (CAC – this one you should know) on multiple on-field programs over the past two years.
NOW – Benny Marquis has been a CAC program participant in the past, but was just recently promoted to being a CAC Community Impact Coach! The CIC Initiative is designed by CAC to take stand out participants from our programs and further develop them with the Online Education Program (OEP) and On-Field professional development opportunities!
AMAZING – So, back to sustainability. A couple of years ago CAC, nominated a kid to give him a chance for the MJYL program, and he thrived! He continued to travel, coach, and learn and has recently ran his own program, independently representing CAC with partner Parikrma, in Bangalore, India. Assisting him with this training is CIC, Benny, who is now able to apply all of his learnings from the OEP program on the ground. Not only this, but Jamie has connected CAC Partner Parikrma with his old sporting club, Spartans Academy, and they will be hosting a Girls Football Festival at the end of the month – so the good work keeps on going!
Change is possible, and sustainable. People can make a difference, and their impact can grow. This story started with a teenage boy with a good heart, and now he is training community leaders around the world for the planets largest international sport for development non-profit. This is what Coaches Across Continents is all about … ACRONYMS …. and sustainable development at its finest.
Notes from Benny on the week:
“I learned a lot of leadership skills thanks to CAC and Jamie. I also learned how to modify the session in case of a larger group of students, and also how to use available resources – even if it is just a stone lying around – to conduct the session. Tough this was explained during the OEP in theory, I got my first hand experience at it this time on-field. I also got to learn more about two hour sessions, the number of games that can be included, and the kind of sport for education discussions that can be had.”
The Ultimate Challenge of the Perpetual Social Impact Machine
November 30th, 2017. Second-time Global Citizen, JK Cho, writes about his experience on-field with Coaches Across Continents and ChildReach Nepal, along with the complexities of change.
A perpetual motion machine is a hypothetical device that repeats a certain motion indefinitely without an energy source. You might have seen a windmill-looking device in a physics book, which has bearing balls rolling around inside of the wheel or bearing balls swinging attached to the outer side of the wheel. That is called a “mass leverage” device, one of the most famous failures in the effort of inventing a perpetual motion machine. Since the Middle Ages, out of a desire to achieve an everlasting engine without burning fuel, countless efforts made by scientists to create this self-sustaining closed system have failed. The idea is impossible because it violates a couple of the laws of physics – the first or second law of thermodynamics. In simple words, it cannot close the loop because it loses energy gradually due to gravity and friction. The machine will eventually stop.
You can see CAC’s mission parallels to it in that the organization wants to help create social movements that sustain and evolve independently without a need for consistent help and influence from the western world. The organization refuses to do a one-time, feel-good “volun-tour” work and leave. Each visit is dedicated to design and install a perpetual social impact engine in a community’s needs and concerns, using its own assets. Once it picks up the pace, it is supposed to work free and creates their own organic results. Just like a perpetual motion device cannot ignore the physical laws, there is a natural drag as well as intentional resistance in the process of CAC’s work.
This week’s partner, Child Reach Nepal is one of the most admirable charity partners that I have worked with through CAC. With transformational leaders like Prateek, Shamsher, and the rest of the team who truly care and devote their lives to their community, Child Reach Nepal has brought tremendous positive impact to its children. In spite of the notoriously wide daily temperature range and dusty air in the mountain, the program in Sindhupalchok went stellar. Everyone was sincerely participatory with an eager to learn and grow. We learned that female social inclusion in sports and outdoor activities had been one of the major issues in Sindupalchok based schools. The girls said they wanted to play sports with boys, but they were afraid and not invited. We had a great discussion on it with men and women together and separately. It was bought up that women were doing more physical work in the community such as carrying on their backs an A-frame carrier full of heavy items. Everyone agreed girls could be as strong, tough, and athletically intelligent as boys if they had an equal opportunity. Some even said it’s the society and tradition that boxes and limits roles and behaviors in gender.
And then, one thing did not sit well with me happened. Immediately after the discussion, I heard there was going to be a friendly football match, and the bet was a 6kg of chicken meat. Guess what happened. All the talk that we just had evaporated instantly. People were recruiting the best players on their teams. As long as I witnessed, no one asked the girls to play for the match. One team even recruited these new faces who had never shown up in the program. I have to say we all were way into winning, playing a competitive, “real” match, or at least winning kilos of chicken meat. The school girls were automatically excluded and also seemed to not even want to play. They knew it would turn out an intense, heated battle. Everybody including me failed in walking the talk.
Almost 20 years ago, the UN made a commitment to achieving gender parity in executive roles by the year 2000. In 2016, with a 16 year overdue, less than one in three director-level positions within the organization were women. Despite the former secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s regular assertions of progress in appointing women to high office, an 84% of his appointments to top posts in 2015 were male. The unconformable truth we have here is that, for chicken meat, natural competitiveness, or whatever reasons, our words don’t always translate into action. Even the world largest and most powerful intergovernmental organization cannot ignore the drag and friction.
The ultimate challenge of creating a self-sustaining impact model is the action part. CAC brilliantly employs the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) principle and Community Impact Coaches (CIC) network to increase the propulsion and reduce the resistance of the motion. SDL style provides the sustainable nature, promoting the spirit of taking initiative in constant self-reflection and transformation. CICs are selected and trained local agent coaches who are capable of running a program locally on behalf of CAC without any cultural, language, physical, and distance barriers. Talking about the closed loop system! Another thing that I have faith in is CAC coaches’ rock-solid integrity. It’s the strong consistency and cohesiveness that are needed to make words straight into action and results. The coaches that I have worked with are special individuals living up to their belief and leading by examples, inspiring the communities to take action now and be the change.
In recent years, big corporations also started creating a closed loop system to be more self-sustainable. One of the world largest fast fashion brands, H&M, has just adopted the closed loop garment production system – they collect unwanted and unsold items and give them a new life. Their goal is to eventually get to the point where it does not source new wools and cottons. The possibility to invent a perfect self-sustaining system seems still questionable, however, the efforts around it did make tangible and meaningful results. Turbines and engines have gotten more efficient than ever, recycling has become such big part of production in the manufacturing industry, and CAC started sending fewer western people and use more indigenous human resources for global social impact. We already have the keys in us to the ultimate challenge – forward/long-term thinking, pure intention, and cohesive character. We just have to live and die by them, and then changes will come as byproducts.
Knowledge and Gratitude
August 10th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Elvis Nshimba, writes about the experience Coaches Across Continents gave him to work on-field with CAC partner training4changeS.
Our two weeks in northern South Africa, in a village called Bennde Mutale which bordered Zimbabwe and Mozambique, were spent working with and creating impacts alongside community members and leaders. From there, we spent two wonderful weeks in Cape Town. The first week we played games with coaches, teachers and community members and through those games educated them on how to use sport for social impact. At the end of this week, the participants were able to coach and adapt games on their own!
My last week was the most beautiful! We worked with students in different schools, which allowed me as a teacher, to acquire another experience learning from others. We worked with the local coaches of training4changeS to strengthen their capacities to educate and create social change for their pupils through sport.
Because of this trip with Coaches Across Continents, I was able to see the ocean for the first time! It was a great pleasure! I enjoyed my stay in this part of the country, although it was extremely cold. Because of this opportunity to travel with CAC I was able to learn a lot, including realizing the differences between people. I would like to express my gratitude to Coaches Across Continents (CAC) for aligning me on this trip, and to my organization the Malaika Foundation (MALAIKA) for supporting me during my time working away.
A Unique Opportunity for Local Sustainability
February 3rd 2016. Second-time volunteer, Marissa Segala, writes about our second week in Port-au-Prince with the Haitian Initiative (HI).
My second year in the dirt with CAC was equally sunny, warm and enthusing as the first. This time, we spent the first two weeks in city center Cite Soleil working with our third year partner program called The Haitian Initiative. The CAC model involves closely teaching local partners for three years and then allowing the community to take each program as their own; in accordance with the wants and needs of a community with which they are familiar. After an intimate first week with only the Haitian Initiative (HI) and other returning coaches, CAC was given the opportunity to observe as the HI hosted their very own week long clinic working with about 100 coaches from several surrounding community programs.
It was a thrilling experience to watch the HI coaches as they took the learning, adaptations and creations to the pitch with their own pointed agenda. The CAC skills remained, but the interactive teaching and playing was uniquely HI. One of the coaches was quoted with confidence halfway through the week saying, “We’re so excited, because it really feels like we can do the work just as well as you [CAC coaches]” This may not sound like a compliment, but this is exactly what CAC loves to hear. Confusing, I know. Who wants to be told that someone else can do your job as well or possibly even better than you? Upon further reflection, I realized the underlying implications of this comment.
The purpose of a CAC coach is not to be the best one on the pitch or the most knowledgeable relative to those around you, but it is to help create and foster an environment that promotes the growth and development of a multitude of great coaches and thinkers. The HI coaches demonstrated clear command of their own specific agenda, and they executed it flawlessly. It only makes sense that a program could run more smoothly when run by locals who understand the culture, language, people and the issues on a much more intricate level than any visitor could attempt.
The CAC model has been executed perfectly by the CAC staff. They are able to provide an opportunity for coaches to engage with and showcase their skills. It indicates a special kind of success that is far more rewarding and complimentary of not just CAC, but all parties involved. I look forward to continuing to work for CAC as well as staying involved with the growth and success of the Haitian Initiative over the next several years. Until next time.
Virtual Learning Community: Education for a Changing World
January 19, 2016. Coaches Across Continents is proud to announce a revolutionary idea in our sport for social impact partnerships; the creation of our Virtual Learning Community. The Virtual Learning Community (VLC) will consist of mentorship to our partner organizations and coaches around the world through a series of monthly webinars. These webinars will address key developmental issues to help the partner program design, develop and implement their sport for social impact initiatives and build sustainability. VLC topics will include Child Protection, Female Rights’ and Policy implementation, Business and Strategic Consulting, and more and will commence next week.
“The Virtual Learning Community is a bold step forward in our approach in providing year-round organizational development with our partner organizations, and will allow CAC to have a greater impact through sport globally.” – Brian Suskiewicz, Chief Executive Strategist
The VLC allows Coaches Across Continents to continue our mentorship of partner communities in organizational development and sport for social impact education. The VLC joins our existing initiatives such as our Online Education Program and Community Impact Coach Program as we continue to provide education for a changing world. It will provide opportunities for unique partnership pathways as organizations utilize our various strategic resources, which will empower communities to question harmful traditional, religious, and cultural practices; responsibly choose their own futures; and create sustainable change.
Since 2008 Coaches Across Continents has worked in 37 countries with 295 implementing community partner programs and 2,479 member partner programs. Overall, we have educated and certified 13,685 community coaches and directly impacted 1,157,548 young people. In 2016, the Virtual Learning Community will allow us to better impact our partnerships, as well as expand to new areas and regions that are currently inaccessible in the present political climate.
“We live in a time of extraordinary change — change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.” – Barack Obama, 2016 State of the Union Address
Commitment and Creativity – Pemba coaches are becoming Self-Directed Learners
May 21, 2014. A long way from Germany, CAC Coach Markus Bensch describes our work this past week on Pemba Island (Zanzibar, Tanzania). When Sophie and I arrived on Sunday morning in Pemba we went straight from the airport on an island tour. The whole vegetation was lush green and everything flowered. It felt a bit like paradise and our accommodation was right next to the ocean which gave us a very nice rest in the afternoon, before we started with the program the next day.
On Monday morning we would welcome 41 coaches to our training of which were 32 returners which means they had participated in our training last year. That made us very happy, because it is exactly what we want, coaches that take part all three years in our Hat-Trick Training and change things in their community step by step for better. We were also very impressed by their commitment during the week. Some of the coaches came earlier to the venue to write up the games we played before the training started, most of the coaches were on time so we could start punctually and the number of participants stayed constant over the week and could work with more than 40 coaches every day.
Throughout the week we played games that focused on different topics, i.e. how to resolve conflict without using violence, how to find solutions for problems without asking for the answer and how communication and cooperation can help to overcome challenges, both individually and as a group. We also addressed different social issues like environment pollution, gender inequality, violence against children, HIV/AIDS and early pregnancy. The group did a great job when they adapted our “Adebayor makes good choices” game which is about HIV/AIDS prevention into a game that teaches about prevention of early pregnancies.
On Friday we had our coach-back day as usual. For us coaches it is always a lot of fun because we can act like participants and even take part in the games and leave the stage to participant coaches to practice the games they invented. We saw great coach-backs from nine different groups and it showed us that each of them made a big step during the last year and throughout the week towards the goal of becoming a self-directed learner. We’re very curious to follow up and hear about their progress throughout the year and we are looking forward to come back in 2015 for the final year of our Hat-Trick Curriculum to support the coaches in developing a more open community that respects and supports the rights of children and woman and that addresses existing issues openly to discuss them and find ways to solve them.
The two successful weeks on Zanzibar would not be possible without the excellent cooperation with all the implementing partners. We’re happy to say ‘Thank you!’ to Save the Children, The National Sports Council, The Zanzibar Football Association and The Ministry of Education for two wonderful weeks with more than 100 coaches in total that surely will make a difference in the community and in young people’s live that are in their care. We hope that this partnership last for a very long time and we are happy to come back on Zanzibar next year.
We left Pemba on Friday afternoon to land after a wonderful half an hour flight on Unguja again, because we wanted to go swimming with dolphins on Saturday early morning. We left the hotel at 6am and one hour later we sat on a boat to reach out to the dolphins. The beaches and the water are so beautiful that it felt again like paradise. After a while we spotted the first dolphins. After our driver brought us in position we could even jump into the water and marveled them swimming right next to us. It was wonderful to see the elegance with which these creatures ride the waves and swim through the ocean. Compare to them our movements in the water seem like clumsy movements just to save us from drowning. This experience was a great finish of our two weeks on Zanzibar and I already want to submit a request to Brian our Chief Executive Strategist that I want to come back next year.